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Four-year-old fine art photographer Joshua Marshall just hit newsstands in the Winter 2013 edition of Profiles 98 magazine.
Joshua is featured as a contributing photographer. His work shows artists participating in "Kingdom Come", the 6th National Exhibition (NE6) of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB).
Joshua's mother Candis Marshall, who was featured in the exhibition, recalled Joshua's fascination with many of the pieces, particularly the installations and how they came together.
Joshua's development in photography stemmed from a therapy his mother used when he was two years old.
As a toddler, he had been a brain box with very wide interests but he was also diagnosed with epilepsy.
Joshua experienced a major seizure that affected his speech and coordination and his ability to communicate. Though his mind was still processing at the same rate, he could not convey his thoughts and needs the way he had become accustomed.
It was through photography that Candis found a way for her son to communicate.
With his camera, Joshua began taking photographs of what he wanted to say and after a while, learned how to explain the photograph and what he wanted to convey.
This was just the beginning of an amazing journey that led to Joshua being noticed by artist Antonius Roberts and the editor of Profiles 98 magazine.
"The editor of Profiles 98, Tercena Carey, has an unquenchable desire to ensure that every Bahamian artist or designer that is willing to hone their craft and is committed to truly representing The Bahamas globally gets an opportunity to do just that with some of the world's most well known individuals and entities as their captive audience," Candis said.
"She has had many opportunities to meet with Joshua and view his work privately and at our recent exhibition (at Hillside House in January). She was so impressed with his ability, mostly because of his age but also because of his eye for detail. [So] she decided to give him a chance to showcase his work in the Winter 2013 issue of Profiles 98."
Profiles 98 is distributed throughout The Bahamas as well as in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, Guyana, Antigua, Bermuda and Haiti. It also distributed at fashion events (most recently at New York Fashion Week), spas and hotels in the Caribbean and the U.S.
So far, Joshua's work has been featured at the Bahamas National Trust Art and Wine Festival and Antonius Roberts' Studio and Gallery at Hillside House, in addition to the magazine.
He has also sold three posters and three original fine art prints - two of which are on display at AFS Insurance Brokers, Carmichael Road.
His mother is currently writing a book about him called "I Am Peter Parker", stemming from Joshua's fascination with Spiderman's alias, Peter Parker, the photographer with superhuman abilities.
The first in a series of lectures was held recently at the Harry C. Moore Library at The College of the Bahamas, where there was a lively discussion on the whole concept of freedom of information.
To date, ineffective freedom of information legislation, limited access to environmental decisions and even less public participation in the decision-making process, has made the task of getting information regarding governmental decisions quite difficult.
But, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon.
"Our Right to Know" is a multi-perspective lecture series sponsored by The College of the Bahamas and NGOs Save the Bays, BREEF and the Bahamas National Trust. The series has charged head on into the fray with an initial lecture series on the Freedom of Information Act and the Latin American and Caribbean regional instrument on Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration and their importance for government transparency.
The series, set to focus on pressing environmental law and policy issues, held its first lecture on October 22 in the library.
Lecturers included retired Justice Jeanne Thompson, Assistant Professor at The College of The Bahamas Lisa Benjamin and Dawson Malone, Eugene Dupuch Law School graduate of Callenders & Co.
Retired Justice Thompson started off the forum with an in depth look at the Freedom of Information Bill. With an absurdly long shelf life, The Freedom of Information Bill has sat through two successive governments, only to yield a bill with noted deficiencies.
As Justice Thompson took audience members through the bill's wording, cogent problems such as the lack of access to judicial or quasi-judicial bodies to challenge decisions made by ministers became increasingly apparent.
Further, Justice Thompson exposed the lack of a definition of "public interest". This is important because information concerning the public interest forms certain exemptions to information which would otherwise be excluded from disclosure. Justice Thompson asked, "How do we interpret any of these clauses if there is no definition of public interest?"
"What we seem to be left with is an act with no teeth," said Thompson. "We would still be in a position waiting for a whistle blower to let us know what is going on."
The second panelist, Lisa Benjamin, led spectators to consider the international perspectives on access to environmental decisions through the Aarhus Convention and the ongoing regional negotiation on Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration by Latin American and Caribbean States.
According to Benjamin, "The Aarhus Convention, which has not been signed or ratified by The Bahamas, is the only binding international convention that enshrines the three pillars of environmental democracy: Access to justice, access to Information and public participation."
Urging audience members to put more pressure on the Bahamian government to incorporate these principles into domestic law, Benjamin outlined the accountability the convention places on respective governments.
"Parties to the Aarhus Convention are bound by international law to incorporate the principles of access to justice, access to information and public participation in their domestic law to afford their citizens access to the decisions making process concerning environmental sustainability".
While Aarhus has been signed and ratified by 47 countries mainly centered in Europe, eighteen countries in the Caribbean and Latin American have adopted a regional approach to the institutionalization of access to information, access to justice and public participation.
The Declaration on the Application of Principle 10 on the Rio Declaration of Environment and Development (CELAC), signed by countries like Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, St. Vincent & Grenadines and the Dominican Republic, launched the way toward developing a regional instrument on access to environmental information, public participation and justice in June 2012.
The declaration has since gained traction through a series of negotiations and plans that have culminated in the Lima Vision for a Regional Instrument on Access Rights Relating to the Environment in October 2013.
In response to this vision, Caribbean and Latin American countries have since developed national legislation reflecting passive access to information, active access to information and arguably most importantly, the government's responsibility to disseminate information to the general public.
On the regional instrument Benjamin noted, "It is important to build a citizenry that is informed on sustainable development". Benjamin ended the presentation by emphasizing the need for countries like The Bahamas, where sustainable development is an important issue, to incorporate these international and regional conventions to make the government accountable.
The final speaker of the evening, Dawson Malone brought the debate home by placing the discussions of the Freedom of Information Act and international instruments on environmental democracy in the context of the largely controversial Bimini Bay development project.
Dawson explained the need for a viable Freedom of Information Act to prevent environmentally disastrous developments, stating, "If I am relying on access to the court to vindicate my rights, I must have information to do so".
The case against the Bimini Bay development project was unfortunately lost due to a number of factors. Dawson said, "It's difficult to say the decisions made by the court to go through with the development was access to justice."
Dawson emphasized the major pitfall in the case was the lack of information available to the public to stop the development in time.
"In order not to render your constitutional rights obtuse, you must have a Freedom of Information Act," he said.
"Our Right to Know" will continue the debate with the second part of the series on November 19th, 2014 in the Harry C. Moore Library.
Global Earth Day gives people a chance every year to reflect on how they can change their lifestyle choices into more sustainable and harmonious ones for the planet on which they live, but that doesn't matter unless they are honored the other 364 days of the year.
Such is the message by two Bahamian artists who are transforming communities and minds through their work and artistic efforts.
On April 22, while Tyrone Ferguson unveiled a new sculpture on the island of New Providence, Antonius Roberts took his message to Eleuthera. The pair celebrated Global Earth Day in the only way they knew how: through sharing their work that takes inspiration from its environment.
Joining his sculptures already on the grounds, Tyrone Ferguson unveiled a new installation at New Providence Community Church. For this artist, who often creates sculptures using repurposed metal and wood, sharing the sculpture and speaking during their Sunday service was a chance to inspire the NPCC community - and beyond - to treasure their surroundings.
"We can make this world and community a better place if we all just put our hands to it," he said. "God said we must use our creativity and imaginations to take care of this earth. When we intentionally put our hands to what God has provided us with, then we can experience what God has given us, we can experience healing and wellness and a closer walk with God."
Indeed part of the decision to install more of his work at NPCC ties into his overall vision to transform the community church grounds into a place where members and visitors alike can find a spiritual connection with nature.
Already NPCC employs a number of recycling programs and considers itself deeply passionate about environmental justice. Such a philosophy has gifted space for sustainable sculptures by Ferguson and fellow collaborator Antonius Roberts on the grounds, including Ferguson's new piece.
At the top of his sculpture sits a globe carried by many hands - traced by NPCC members and cut out by Ferguson - while underneath a doorway sits atop a repurposed bank vault door as a base. Ferguson hopes that the doorway creates a portal for its viewers - that by walking through it, no matter what day of the year, they focus on how to improve the earth.
"The hands hold the globe in a symbolic gesture of us participating in creating the world," he said. "But there's a disconnect here - we speak it, but are we intentionally making the world a better place, not just on Earth Day but beyond?"
"It's going to take all of our hands to do this, it's going to take commitment, time, talent and resources to do this," he continued. "Pulling up a few casuarinas on Earth Day isn't going to cut it; we want to hand off a better community to our children. We need to take it to the next level. We need to celebrate Earth Day 365 days a year."
Doing just that is fellow artist and collaborator Antonius Roberts, whose artistic practice and community building initiatives always repurpose discarded wood to make gorgeous pieces. This Sunday he too unveiled a new sculpture at the Leon Levy Reserve in Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera as part of the One Eleuthera Foundation & Nature Conservancy's celebrations this past weekend which also had the support of the government and the Bahamas National Trust. The sculpture was a male and female figure carved beautifully out of wild Tamarind wood salvaged by the Leon Levy staff after Hurricane Irene.
"I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to breathe life back into the wood," said Roberts. "It was a spontaneous piece that follows the form, spirit and grain of the wood. My thought is we are stewards of the earth and I thought God has given us domain over this earth in a biblical sense."
Indeed the figures, placed in such an environment as the breathtaking Leon Levy Preserve, create an Edenic atmosphere for visitors to ponder the beauty of nature and the need to preserve it.
The first national park on Eleuthera, the reserve not only acts as an educational resource for visitors but is also a haven for native plant species.
Adding to that environment, says Roberts, is the addition of three new benches in the space as part of his National Bench Program, which works in conjunction with the government's Job Readiness Program and Baha Mar to turn discarded wood from the invasive species of casuarinas into beautiful and practical benches.
But the important aspect of this program is not so much the sustainability of material but of the craftsmen themselves. For the National Bench Program, young men have trained under Roberts in the craft of bench making, giving them vital skills and an awareness of sustainability in their field. The three benches in Eleuthera were made by two young men in high school under the National Bench Program.
"People were able to come and not only celebrate the sculptures we did but the spirit of transformation," said Roberts. "These men were so excited by the program that they would like to set up a bench-making industry on the island of Eleuthera when they return back from college because there is a proliferation of casuarina trees there."
"So for me when we talk about preservation, the reality is we need to talk about sustainability - we need to create opportunities for our people to buy into the whole process of preservation," he continued. "I think it is important for us to work with the schools and engage young people in the process so that they can take ownership and be responsible stewards."
That's just what Roberts aims to do with the National Bench Program. He adds that he was pleasantly surprised to see that over the weekend, Baha Mar had added 15-20 of these benches - made from the discarded wood of casuarinas during the clearing for their development - to their walkway flanking natural wetlands on the new rerouted Cable Beach Strip. The move was an appropriate one given the tone of Sunday.
Rather than be varnished and perfect additions to the environment, Roberts explains that these benches are made to weather over time along with its surroundings.
"They will be properly maintained and treated, but they are meant to grey and age like driftwood so they are part of the environment and landscape instead of just being placed there - they will weather and allow nature to take charge of how they wear," he said.
Overall though, he finds the most significant aspect of the new display at Baha Mar is the work behind them by young hands. Such a practice is a promise for a better, more sustainable future in a rapidly developing world.
"I'm so proud to see these are benches made by young men," he said. "I took them out today to have a look at those, and you should see them beaming with pride. The benches just look wonderful."
This column was originally published on February 9, 2010
Andros Island, the fifth largest island in the Caribbean, and larger than many CARICOM countries, is big and long. It boasts one of the largest national parks in the region, one of the world’s largest barrier reefs and a magnificent Tongue of the Ocean with a 6,000 foot drop-off.
From the Bahamas National Trust: “As one of the least populated regions in the Caribbean Basin, Andros Island and its myriad of tidal creeks, interconnected lakes, mud flats and mangroves support some of the largest populations of underwater life in the region.”
Both the Central Andros National Park and the west side of Andros are areas of ...
FREEPORT, The Bahamas - The Grand Bahama branch of the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) recently received a donation of hammers, gloves, shovels and other equipment from Bahama Rock, the Reef Ball Foundation, Paradise Cove and ES Caribbean. The donation is a great example of a partnership between local and international organizations helping each other to help protect the environment.
"The BNT is appreciative of the tools donated through this partnership, which will significantly assist with ongoing work at the Rand Nature Center and Lucayan National Park," commented Lakeshia Anderson, Grand Bahama Parks manager. "We certainly look forward to building this relationship with these partners, to advance further conservation work in Grand Bahama."
Thanks to Bahama Rock's donation, volunteers were able to assist with preparing the reef balls for deployment into the water. Students from The College of Bahamas (COB), the Royal Bahamas Defense Force (RBDF) Rangers, St. George's Marine Conservation Group, and Lucaya International School were all a part of the initiative. While helping with the reef balls, the students participating all got a chance to learn about the importance of conservation and preservation of our shorelines.
With the reef ball project coming to an end, a decision has been made to re-donate the items to the BNT for use with national park maintenance on Grand Bahama. The donation was greatly appreciated by the BNT, as the supplies which were donated are a necessity when it comes to maintaining the parks.
Cheri Wood, a BNT member and volunteer noted, "Let this stand as a shining example of people and businesses that really care about the future of our environment and understand that we all must help each other if we are to succeed in keeping our island beautiful and healthy for generations to come."
Downtown Nassau embodies all of the elements for a beautiful cosmopolitan city: harbor frontage, history and architectural splendors. Yet its revitalization stymies, not for lack of effort by the Downtown Nassau Partnership, but from years of poor planning and inadequate maintenance. As the government seeks to reignite investment in the Family Islands, it must be cognizant of the shortcomings created by ad-hoc development so brazenly portrayed on New Providence.
The Bahamas courts foreign direct investment often in the form of land development projects. In fact, the 2013/2014 budget communication acknowledges that foreign investment projects are expected to continue to support construction activity. A point reiterated by Prime Minister Perry Christie in his address to Parliament, where he championed the thousands of prospective jobs stemming from development proposals on Eleuthera, Exuma and the Exuma Cays, Mayaguana, Cat Island and others.
Unfortunately, such land development proposals can linger on the cusp of approval for months or years frustrating both the developer and jobseekers. Delays emanate from inconsistent government policies that arise in part from the absence of a cohesive national development strategy. The Bahamas struggles to proactively build its future and to facilitate those projects that meet national and island-specific goals.
Land use planning is a mechanism and vital component to guide and sustain the future development of The Bahamas. By integrating existing environmental and socio-economic conditions with national development goals, The Bahamas can facilitate project-specific investment that aligns with a vision for progressive growth.
The Planning and Subdivision Act as a catalyst
Enacted in 2010, a primary objective of the Planning and Subdivision Act is to "provide for land use planning based on a development control system led by policy, land use designations, and zoning". The 2010 act provides a refreshing legislative update that aligns Bahamian policy with modern planning principles. The planning process has evolved from a fragmented ad hoc approach to a macro-vision for community connectivity.
According to the 2010 act, a land use plan is a policy document that shows existing and future planned land uses including lands to be protected from development. While intentionally vague so as not be restrictive, a more appropriate definition is provided by Canadian Institute of Planners whereby planning "means the scientific, aesthetic, orderly dispositions of land, resources, facilities, and services with a view to secure the physical, economic and social efficiency, health and well-being of urban and rural communities".
A land use plan considers the physical, social and economic environment of a particular geographic area - i.e., the South Ocean property or Abaco. Most importantly, a land use plan is often a spatial (map) representation comprising several layers of data held in geographic information system (GIS) that allows for qualitative and quantitative analysis.
By integrating various land use designations in layers, such as environmental reserves, Crown land, utility infrastructure, planned commercial and residential areas, visual analysis of existing and proposed development becomes readily identifiable. Development thus becomes sustainable by being able to identify existing infrastructure and natural resource capabilities against future demand.
New Providence: A case study
New Providence mimics the global trend in urbanization with its proportion of the population increasing from 54 percent in 1953 to 70 percent in 2010. Such a high concentration of the population in the capital begets a natural accrual of public, economic and infrastructure resources further incentivizing relocation from the Family Islands. Yet, despite the perceived employment opportunities, poor planning has exacerbated the woes accompanying urbanization, namely crime and social stratification.
The World Bank acknowledges that demographic transitions are particularly difficult for small to medium-sized cities. In turn, insufficient infrastructure investment compounds the major urban challenges identified by the World Bank as climate change, resource scarcity, slum growth, poverty and safety concerns.
New Providence is all too familiar with these challenges as heavy rains exacerbate the drainage woes of Pinewood Gardens, shantytowns proliferate unabated and crime remains near record levels. Moreover, New Providence portrays the shortcomings of conventional zoning policy where building uses seldom account for adjacent land uses or public spaces. The fire at Strachan's Auto that threatened nearby homes exemplifies this danger.
But New Providence has been the subject of several concentrated land use studies. The revitalization of downtown Nassau has been mapped by ESDA and the recently implemented and completed road improvement project proposed some 20 years ago. But like the Family Islands, infrastructure costs are a significant capital burden depending on the investment of others or through proposed mechanisms like private-public partnerships.
A land use planning revolution
The 2010 act stipulates that land use plans shall be prepared for each island of The Bahamas and be available for public viewing. A comprehensive plan that entails the needs of a community while safeguarding natural resources provides a vision for the future possibilities of development.
Public participation is a crucial part of the specific island plans and may encourage positive developer relations. A land use plan previewed by the public may circumvent future issues of Crown land allotment if such uses are known to follow the goals of a national development policy.
In 2008, Planning Abaco, a land use plan for Abaco, was developed by Andrews University with the participation of Bahamian students, in collaboration with several local Bahamian firms. More recently, Harvard University has partnered with the government and the Bahamas National Trust to form Sustainable Exuma, an ongoing education and research directive to
generate land use plans for
Exuma. Both plans follow
the premise of sustainable development with a strong emphasis on environmental consideration and public space, but both are yet to be implemented.
At present, much of the concern surrounding Resorts World Bimini and the proposed expansion stems from the lack of an overall land use plan for Bimini and public consultation. While the public is assured that EDSA is drafting a master plan, it is curious that a land use plan is being developed in conjunction with construction.
It is also prudent to remember that numerous places in New Providence developed at a time when the environmental impacts were not assessed and many projects would never have been approved today. Yet, today policymakers cannot feign ignorance to the economic consequences of environmental degradation resulting from poor planning.
Integrated land use planning is integral to facilitating an actual commitment to sustainable development in The Bahamas.
o Melissa Bray Alexiou is the director of Waypoint Consulting Ltd., a project management and environmental consulting firm in Nassau, The Bahamas. For more information, visit www.waypointconsultingbahamas.com.
"Flower of Dreams", a collection of floral paintings by Lisa Quinn of Bermuda, opened Thursday, April 11 at the Antonius Roberts Studio and Gallery at Hillside House. For more information, visit http://www.antoniusroberts.com/, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 322-7678.
"Responsible Faith" opens Wednesday, April 17 at 7 p.m. at The Ladder Gallery, New Providence Community Centre, Blake Road. Artists will paint on 55-gallon metal drums, which will be exhibited and then donated to community parks. The drum covers will be used to create wall art for a permanent collection at The Ladder Gallery. Some will also be sold to benefit ACE Diabetes.
The College of The Bahamas hosts its annual "Colour of Harmony", organized by the Department of Visual and Performing Arts in the college's Performing Arts Centre at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 17. The annual event showcases the talents of art and music majors and recognizes a significant contributor to the development of the arts in The Bahamas through the presentation of the E. Clement Bethel Award. The event begins with a concert, featuring selections by music students and is followed by an exhibition, featuring the work of art students.
"Tropical Alchemy", original art works by Tyler Johnston, opens Thursday, April 18 at at Popopstudios ICVA in Chippingham. This exhibition focuses on three inter-related bodies of work: maps of inheritance, power objects and transmutational icons. Rich in texture and color, Johnston has painted and assembled simple objects that he has found, allowing them to be transformed into something simultaneously complex and simple. There will also be a special performance by Bahama Woodstarr at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.popopstudios.com.
"Writers of Light: Beyond Our View", a photography exhibition that showcases College of The Bahamas student work, takes place Thursday, April 18 at 4:00 p.m at Chapter One Bookstore.
"26.6 N-78.7 W", an exhibition by Del Foxton, Susan Moir Mackey and Boryana Korcheva, opens Thursday, April 18 at 4 Martel Place, Bell Channel in Freeport, Grand Bahama. For more information, contact Susan Moir Mackey at email@example.com or (242) 353-4333 or 602-2014.
"Bubbles", new work by Antonius Roberts, continues at The Central Bank Art Gallery. The gallery is open Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. This work will be on display until Friday, April 26.
All-star Amateur Artist (AAA) Artwork: "NE6: Kingdome Come" Edition continues at the The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. Amateur artists were asked to create works that relate to the distinct sections, Identity, Spirituality & Balance, Justice, Transformation and Survival.
"2 Points of View", featuring work from Eleanor Whitely and Kendal Hanna, continues at Popopstudios International Center for the Visual Arts in Chippingham. For more information, visit popopstudios.com or call 322-7834.
"Kaleidoscope III", an exhibition by the Bahamas Union of Teachers and the Bahamas Association of Art Educators, is featured at the Treasury Building on East Street. The exhibit will feature works by art instructors from both private and public schools throughout The Bahamas.
"Single Sex", an all-female portrait show depicting only female subjects, continues at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. NAGB Curator John Cox says it is meant to stand in dialogue with the "Master Artists of The Bahamas" exhibition (later this year), which has no female representation. For more information, visit www.nagb.org.bs, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 328-5800/1.
"Matters of the Heart" a Salus Project art exhibition continues at the Ladder Gallery, New Providence Community Centre, Blake Road.
"Peace & Love: Writings on the Wall", an exhibition of recent work by Stan Burnside continues at the Stan Burnside Gallery, Tower Heights, Eastern Road. They are available to view by appointment by emailing email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Permanent Exhibition of the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas, displaying pieces under the theme "The Bahamian Landscape", continues this week at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. Gallery hours: Tue. - Sat. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Sun. noon - 4 p.m. Admission $5 adults; $3 students/seniors; children under 12 are free. For more information, visit www.nagb.org.bs, email email@example.com or call 328-5800/1.
Lectures and Readings
Ceramicist Alistair D. Stevenson will share his experiences working and traveling in China in a special digital presentation "Talkin' Bout China" Friday, April 19 at 6 p.m. at Doongalik Studios Art Gallery on Village Road. For more information, please contact: Alistair D. Stevenson at 448-7209 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Doongalik Studios at 394-1886 or email@example.com.
Netica Symonette launches her book, "A Girl Called Nettie: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship and Love" on Friday, April 26 at 6 p.m. at Casuarinas of Cable Beach on West Bay Street. The book is an intimate account of Symonette's personal life over the past seven decades, breaking barriers and blazing trails. RSVP at 327-7921.
The College of The Bahamas hosts the 20th Anniversary of the South Eastern African American Collegiate Music Festival Grand Finale Concert on Saturday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the college's Performing Arts Centre. Tickets are $25 and are available at Chapter One Bookstore.
Bahamas FilmInvest International will host the 5th Travelling Caribbean Film Showcase in June at Galleria Cinemas. This year's showcase will feature 29 feature films, documentaries, animations and children's films, with a special tribute being paid to the 40th anniversary of Bahamian independence.
Islandz, having acquired Downtown Art Tours, offers its Islandz Gallery Hop tours, examining art spaces downtown on Saturdays. Tickets are $20 per person for the two-hour tour. For more information or to book tickets, call 601-7592 or visit Islandz online at www.islandzmarket.com.
Tru Bahamian food tours offers a "Bites of Nassau" food tasting and cultural walking tour to connect people with authentic local food items, stories and traditions behind the foods and the Bahamians that prepare and preserve them, through a hands-on, interactive, educational tour and culinary adventure. Tickets are $69 per person, $49 for children under 12. Tours are everyday from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., starting at the British Colonial Hilton and ending at Tortuga Rum Cake Company. For more information, visit www.trubahamianfoodtours.com.
Call for works
The Bahamas National Trust presents its Conchservation Campaign Logo Competition. Logos should be simple; easy to read; able to stand along without text and scalable. Designs will be judged on originality, simplicity, memorability and relevance. Entries should also include a brief explanation of the rationale behind the design and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline is for submission is 5 p.m. on April 24, 2013.
Family Guardian's annual Calendar Photo Contest is open to all Bahamian photographers, under the theme "A Celebration of Bahamian Pastimes". The deadline for entries is July 12. For more information, visit http://www.familyguardian.com.
The 10th Annual Bahamas International Film Festival invites filmmakers from around the worls to submit their narratives, documentaries, worls cinema, short films, animation and family films. This year's festival takes place December 5-13 on New Providence and Eleuthera. The deadline is July 17. For more information, visit http://bintlfilmfest.com.
The 30th Annual Central Bank of The Bahamas Art Competition and Exhibition invites entries for its Open Category under the theme "The Independents", in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Bahamian independence, which is being celebrated this year. The objectives of the competition are to identify, recognize and encourage Bahamian visual artists. To qualify, participants must be citizens of The Bahamas, aged 18 or older (as of October 1, 2013) and not registered in secondary school. The Open/Senior Category Competition and Exhibition component will be held from Tuesday, October 1 to Friday, November 1. Artists under 30 years are especially encouraged to embrace this opportunity of the theme of "The Independents" as a challenge in terms of material and/or the role and responsibilities of independent thinking in art in The Bahamas, as well as, thinking of the larger political symbolism of independence of the country.
"You measure a democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists."
- Abbie Hoffman
This week, we witnessed the commencement of the debate on gambling legislation in Parliament which sought, among other things, to regularize the operation of web shops in The Bahamas. Much of the intense antagonism to the legislation resulted from the outcome of the January 28, 2013 gambling referendum during which the vote in opposition to the proposition of regulating and taxing the web shops prevailed.
Prior to the referendum, the prime minister proclaimed that he would abide by the referendum results. Subsequently, however, he changed his mind, and, notwithstanding the referendum results, introduced legislation that would regulate and tax web shops. Accordingly this week, we would like to Consider this...Are some of the religious pastors who fought and won the referendum poll correct in their accusation that the prime minister's positional reversal and subsequent actions have signaled the death of democracy in The Bahamas?
The state of play
For decades, Bahamians were not allowed to gamble in the country's casinos, although foreigners were not only permitted, but encouraged to do so. Casino gambling in The Bahamas has grown impressively, and tourist gaming has become ensconced in our tourism industry. However, since the enactment of the relevant legislation, Bahamians were prohibited from participating.
During this same period, and for many decades before, Bahamians have actively engaged in the domestic numbers business, paying small amounts of money to bet that the numbers that they chose would "fall" on any given day, resulting in profits far in excess of the cost of the purchase of such numbers. At one point, depending on the gaming house in which one played, a $2 bet could result in winnings of as much as $900, and in some cases slightly more if the number fell in the precise sequence of the daily drawings.
Such games of chance were never legally sanctioned, but for decades the vast majority of Bahamians turned a blind eye to such betting arrangements by local residents. The society as a whole acquiesced to such practices; law enforcement, and civil society, including the church, generally accepted that playing numbers was as much a part of the Bahamian culture as is Junkanoo.
In 2010, when the Ingraham administration decided to regulate the web shops, government representatives met with web shop owners and determined that the annual revenue from this sector was estimated to be in the range of $400 to $600 million. At the time, the Free National Movement (FNM) government realized that it could not allow the industry to continue to operate in an unregulated environment and drafted regulations for it. The FNM did not proceed with its plans to regulate this sector, in part because, at that time, it could not obtain the support of the church.
The 2013 referendum
Shortly after the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) won the general elections on May 7, 2012, Prime Minister Christie aggressively initiated plans to regularize the web shops. Pursuant to that objective, Prime Minister Christie announced that his government would hold a referendum on January 28, 2013 to determine the will of the people on the matter. The two questions on the referendum ballot sought the people's views on regulating and taxing the web shops and the establishment of a national lottery. The referendum results follow:
o The total number of votes cast against regulating and taxing web shops was 51,146, 62 percent of the total;
o The total number of votes cast in favor of regularization was 31,657, 38 percent of the total.
Many people believe that, although a majority of Bahamians who voted in last year's referendum were against the web shops, the outcome is neither persuasive nor conclusive and that the referendum results do not represent the true national sentiment on this issue.
Particularly in light of the low voter turnout of less than 50 percent of eligible voters, it would be erroneous to conclude that a majority of Bahamians are opposed to regulating and taxing web shops or establishing a national lottery.
The regulation imperative
The government recently reported that web shops cumulatively generate gross annual revenue of $600 million. Given this enormously significant cash flow, it is imperative that they be regulated for two important reasons: consumer protection and national security imperatives.
In the absence of completely shutting down the web shops, perhaps an impossibly achievable objective, the government must have also considered the vastly deleterious effects that either shutting them down or allowing them to continue to operate in an unregulated environment would have on our economy. But doing nothing is a wholly untenable proposition.
If we examine the operations of web shops, we will observe that their owners operate two distinctively different businesses. First, they provide online gaming for their customers. From a consumer protection perspective, it is important for persons who participate in web shop activities to be confident that they are protected from undesirable business practices ranging from online machine manipulation to not being able to collect their winnings if they are successful players. Today, in the absence of regulation, the smooth, fair and equitable operation of web shops is wholly based on trust. Regulation will address those and other operational issues.
The second business in which web shops engage comes as close to banking as anything will, without the requirement or benefit of a banking license. There are possibly more automatic teller machines strewn across the length and breadth of this country that are operated by the web shops owners than those of all the commercial banks combined.
Furthermore, the owners of web shops engage in lending money to many Bahamians for similar purposes as our commercial banks. However, in the case of web shops, this is an unregulated activity.
Additionally, we cannot ignore the short and long-term devastating effects on this economy of the nearly 4,000 persons who are employed by the web shops and what their closure would mean to the nation's employment figures.
Finally, it was absolutely necessary to bring this industry into the formal economy, enabling it to be recognized as a legitimate and significant pillar of the Bahamian economy.
Having regard to all of the above, the government is cognizant that regulation of the industry is imperative in order to protect the country from once again being blacklisted by the international agencies of the large industrialized countries, because of the potential threat that an unregulated sector poses for money laundering and terrorist financing, all of which will be minimized through the regulation of the sector.
Accordingly, there cannot be any doubt whatsoever that regulation and taxation of this sector is in the best interests of the country.
The gaming legislation
The gaming legislation that was recently tabled in Parliament, among other things, contains three major provisions that have resulted in varying degrees of intense debate in the public square. Those elements of the bill provide:
That all web shops would be regulated and taxed;
That a national lottery could be established for at some future date to be determined by the government;
That Bahamians would be allowed to gamble in casinos at some future date to be determined by the government.
The government should be commended for its leadership in this matter. Christie has debunked his detractors' derogatory suggestions that he is indecisive and ineffective. He and his Cabinet have taken the bold decision to do the right thing for the economy and the country in the face of excessive opposition and criticism for taking a decision that is incongruent with the expressed will of the people who voiced their views during the last referendum.
Next week we will address those who criticize the government for taking this bold decision in the face of those results, including the official opposition and some church pastors, with a view to determining whether, in light of the prime minister's courageous leadership in this matter, we are witnessing the death of democracy in our country.
o Philip C. Galanis is the managing partner of HLB Galanis and Co., Chartered Accountants, Forensic and Litigation Support Services. He served 15 years in Parliament. Please send your comments to email@example.com.
KINGSTON, Jamaica - It's hard to imagine that Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the darling of the entire Caribbean, has never stepped foot on the sunny islands of The Bahamas.
This May, she intends to change that by taking part in the inaugural International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) World Relay Championships, and the compact World and Olympic Champion is looking forward to the trip.
Winning four of the past five sprint global titles outdoors in the 100 meters (m), and by adding a 60m indoor title this year, the Jamaican national record holder is unquestionably the number one female sprinter in the world right now. Inclusive of relays, she has eight global gold medals since her OIympic debut in Beijing, China.
Her coach Stephen Francis calls her the greatest female sprinter over 100m in the history of athletics. With the hardware she has racked up in just a short period of time, it would be difficult to dispute that. In short, no other woman has done what she did, particularly in the 100m over the past six years. Still, the 27-year-old petite 'pocket rocket', as she is called by her many fans, remains as humble as ever, while still focussing on getting better.
"I'm driven from the inside and from certain circumstances what happened in my life. I don't pay attention to where I fall in history. I just want to continue to get better, and leave the sport better than I found it," said Fraser-Pryce. "I'm reserved. I try to stay away from being looked at as number one - just try to remain humble and grounded. Even after I won the three gold medals in Moscow (2013 World Championships), when I got back to my room, I was like, 'how am I possibly going to top this'. My husband says that I never enjoy anything, but enjoyment will come in time. I just want to continue to get better, and ensure that other young athletes could see that you need to work hard and you need to stay grounded and focussed to get to the top. The sky is the limit."
Fraser-Pryce leads by example. After pulling up to her morning workout last Thursday in her Mercedes jeep, she turned on her Bob Marley music through her head phones, and then engaged in an intense training session.
Francis, the head coach of the Maximizing Velocity and Power (MVP) Track Club, has the ultimate confidence in her.
"Stephen is a wonderful man. He looks rough, but inside he is soft-hearted," said Fraser-Pryce. "I admire him for the fact that he believes in me so much, and I believe in him as well. It's a two-way thing. For you to reap the rewards, you have to pay attention to the coach. I've always listened to him. He has not guided me wrong.
"I just want to continue to pave the way for the young men and women in our society. There is many more to come from Shelly-Ann. I still want to run 21 seconds, and I still want to go under 10.7, so I am still set on working hard, being grounded, and just trusting God to give me the strength and the health to do the things that I need to do."
Fraser-Pryce has personal best times of 10.70 seconds and 22.09 seconds in the 100 and 200m respectively. The 100m time is a national record for Jamaica. The world record in the century, her best event, is a blistering 10.49 seconds, set by the late Florence Griffith-Joyner 26 years ago.
"If I told you I didn't think about 10.49, I would be lying, but I'm one of those persons who believe that in order for me to think about a 10.49, I would have to get to a 10.6, and I would have to get to a 10.5," she said. "As it stands now, I'm not even at 10.6 yet. Until I get there, I try not to focus on the 10.49.
"I definitely believe in my heart that I'm a 10.6 sprinter, but nothing happens before its time. I just have to continue to work."
Fraser-Pryce said that she's very competitive when pitted against her rivals such as American Carmelita Jeter, but she's friendly as well.
"When we are competing against each other, we would walk past each other and don't say anything, but when we would have finished, we would stop and have a conversation. I would tell her that I admire her and she would say that she admires me, and stuff like that," said Fraser-Pryce. "It's a healthy rivalry. I like running against the U.S. They have been dominant for so many years, but we (Jamaica) are here now, and we have much more success to come."
Fraser-Pryce said that when she first started winning races, she discovered what her potential was, and how much better she could be if she continued to work hard.
"I knew what was expected of me," said Fraser-Pryce. "It's very hard to stay at the top, but you just have to keep working.
"I remember first walking through the tunnel at 'Champs' (Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association Boys and Girls Athletics Championships), and being nervous. This shows how far I have come in the sport. I understand and analyze someone's start, technique, and the amount of power they are getting from the blocks.
"At my first 'Champs' I was very excited. I made final and finished seventh. The adrenaline was flowing, but after the race I was excited and proud. The Olympics has shown you that you need to be calm and relaxed. 'Champs' has paved the way for a lot of us, and for me, it taught me how to handle certain situations."
Coincidentally, 'Champs' wrapped up on Saturday at the national stadium here in Jamaica, two days after the interview. Fraser-Pryce, who represented Wolmer's Girls at 'Champs' during her high school career, even provided a bit of commentary during the five-day meet. Whereas full-time commentating as an analyst is quite possible once her athletic career would have concluded, Fraser-Pryce said that she highly doubts that she would go into coaching, because she sees the stress that Coach Francis go through on a daily basis, and doesn't know if she can go through the same thing. For now, she's just enjoying her time commentating at 'Champs'.
"Champs is just awesome. I really love it and can't help but to make noise. I'm one of those fans who get my nails done in school colors. I'm big on style, and I focus on what I like."
Fraser-Pryce's animated style has translated right over into her senior career. She is always seen on the tour, or at big meets, with an assortment of hair styles which separates her from the rest. As a matter of fact, it was at her hair salon, Chic Hair Ja in Kingston, where she gave the interview to reporters last Thursday.
"It's not just that I love hair, I have a passion to create jobs," she said, vowing to bring in a barber in short order as well. "A lot of young men and ladies in Jamaica have degrees and are sitting at home because there are no jobs. If I can create a business so that other persons can get employment, then that's healthy for me and for Jamaicans."
Despite accomplishing it all outdoors over the past six years outdoors, this year could have a special meaning in Fraser-Pryce's career, in that she has already won the world indoor title in the 60m in her first year running indoors, she could run in the Commonwealth Games for the first time, and she is expected to be competing in the inaugural world relays in what would be her first trip to The Bahamas.
She spoke about how excited she is to be coming to The Bahamas.
"I have no idea of what The Bahamas looks like, but I can't wait to experience the culture and enjoy the championships there," she said. "I like the beach, not so much to go in the water because I can't swim, but just to sit on the beach and drink a martini and chill.
"I just hope that Jamaica fields more than one team because we have the depth. I'm not a huge fan of relays because there is always some controversy as to who will run what leg but this particular event should be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to it, just going there and getting it done in The Bahamas. Relays are always exciting, and being a part of this first championship is very huge. I would love to be there to see what unfolds."
The world relays is set for May 24-25, at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
At home in Jamaica, Fraser-Pryce's typical day is inclusive of her early training session at 6:30 every morning, taking her five-year-old niece to school at times, dropping by the hair salon, going to the gym around midday, getting a massage if needed, and then back for a second workout in the evenings. At times, she would have photo sessions, shoot commercials, and watch a movie if time permits. Her favorite TV shows are the Jamie Foxx and Steve Harvey shows.
As for her Pocket Rocket Foundation, it is geared toward assisting student-athletes in getting scholarships for secondary and tertiary level education.
"We're just trying to alleviate some of the stress and the problems that they face," said Fraser-Pryce. "When I started high school, I was blessed to have a woman assist me financially. She saw something in me that I didn't even see, and started to fund my education, my books, my lunch... everything.
"At that point, I didn't want anyone to feel sorry for Shelly-Ann, but she showed me compassion and love in so many ways and that in a way made me obligated to do the same thing to other athletes who are coming from impoverished situations. They are here, and a lot of their parents can't afford to send them to school so that they could become better individuals."
Fraser-Pryce's foundation gave out seven scholarships to deserving student-athletes last year.
"It has been really remarkable to see the progress that they have made, especially in the school area," said Fraser-Pryce. "We don't just hand out the checks, but be there for them emotionally as well. The foundation has given me a platform to cause a change for young Jamaicans. I just hope to get more sponsors to come on board so that we could give out more scholarships. These young kids are talented and bright.... they are just unable to pay their way through school."
On two of her tattoos, one on each wrist - one has the word 'hope' on it, and the other has the word 'faith' on it.
"I'm big on faith and hope. Everything that I hope for in life, I have faith that God will provide it for me," said Fraser-Pryce. "I still have a lot of work to do to get where I want to go. I understand what hard work does. I just have to remain dedicated and put in the work."
Apart from track and field, Fraser-Pryce said that she has grown to like football and cricket, but has an appreciation for all sports.
My Fellow Bahamians:
Tonight I address you on the eve of a momentous day.
Tomorrow Bahamians will go to the polls and participate in a free, democratic and fair election. As this country makes its choices on its path into the future, we must also look back and thank God for the gifts he has given us.